Co Co Sala, the new chocolate infusion restaurant in Penn Quarter, is not for the curmudgeonly. It’s loud. The menu may confuse. There is an emphasis of style over comfort in the seating and restroom design. But if you can get past these things, you could be in a for a fun treat.
Co Co Sala’s menu is heavily focused on adding unique chocolate elements to dishes, but you have an opportnity to satisfy more than just a sweet tooth. The menu items are set up tapas-style, including multiple options of mac & cheese, crabcakes, sliders (the darling of DC menus these days), and salads. Of course, there is a wide dessert selection as well.
Details on our experience after the jump!
Mike kicked it off with an order of the bacon mac& cheese. The effects of Mike seeing these ingredients combined is about enough to make him fall off his chair in eagerness to order it. But wait – it gets better. The bacon in this mac and cheese? Has been dipped in chocolate. Now that is a salty sweet combo I can get behind! My first course, a manchego and baby arugula with coffee vinaigrette, was less glitzy in comparison but still delicious.
We both selected a crabcake for the second course – the crispy Lousiana with mango salsa and the Chesapeake with coffee creme fraiche. Both cakes were small but flavorful, although the Louisiana crabcake came with a little more pop in flavor. For our final pre-dessert course, we selected spicy Moroccan swordfish and tandoori chicken patty sliders. The swordfish, well seasoned and tender, was a nice bite of deliciousness while the tandoori chicken was decent but nothing really to write home about (so I write to you about it).
Of course, with a chocolate restaurant the real clincher are the dessert options. The dessert menu is designed to to be a tasting menu meant to take your palate on an adventure – to India, Italy, the Aztecs or your childhood. You can select a tasting or pick the “entree” (the biggest plate from each tasting selection) on its own. Well really, after you start off with chocolate bacon with mac & cheese, you’ve gotta close big. We selected xocolatyl, or the “Aztec Exprience.” This started with small samples of churros, cinnamon cream and a dulce de leche dip. These churros were truly the best I have ever had – light, airy and cleary made recently. The main dessert dish featured a hot chocolate souffle (read: chocolate lava cake) with a kahlua soother. The warm gooey center of the souffle included a surprising spicy kick, hence the soother, and helped take an common dessert menu item up a few notches. The tasting menu closed on a light tip with a chocolate infused horchata and mexican wedding cookie.
We look forward to return trips to Co Co Sala as the weather cools and choclate based menus become even more tempting. The addition of daytime hours for the chocolate boutique (starting at 7 AM Monday through Friday) is certainly welcome. And I’m especially eager for the mercury to dip to give me an excuse to try one of the warm dessert drinks such as hot dark chocolate and hot salted caramel. I’ll take two please.